Wolff Olins’ First North American President Wants to Change How Consumers Experience Brands

Former Amazon, R/GA creative director takes reins

Brand consultancy Wolff Olins announced this week it has hired Tim Allen as its first North American president.

Allen brings a colorful, nontraditional career in branding and design to the new role. Prior to joining the Omnicom firm, he was executive creative director for product experience at Amazon, where he led a team of technologists and designers shaping the retail giant's digital products. His resume also includes product-focused roles with IBM and Adobe as well as stints managing experience design teams at SapientNitro and R/GA, where Allen's agency career began. (He spent his first three years running creative on Nike, and Adweek later named that work "Digital Campaign of the Decade.")

"I'm absolutely thrilled to join the Wolff Olins family," Allen said. "Its underlying values and culture rooted in empowering clients to build deeper, richer human experiences inspire me at a fundamental level."

Allen says the firm's decision to name its first North American president now was "mainly an impetus from customers."

"Clients' customer bases require more from brands than what they say; it's more about what they do experientially, and our clients are asking for that across the board," he said.

Brands are increasingly defined by the full experience they offer customers rather than just the messages accompanying their products—and Wolff Olins hopes to capitalize on the shift in sentiment by strengthening its North American operations and, by extension, the services it offers clients.

Allen told Adweek the consultancy will also add a technologist, user-experience designers and a design strategist to its North American team but that hiring him will not change its existing management structure. He calls the move "more an insertion of leadership rather than a complete reorganization."

The new president said his day-to-day responsibilities will be "a combination of people, projects and purpose."

"I will help clarify where we are going as an agency in North America and globally," he said.

Wolff Olins global CEO Ije Nwokorie said Allen "is one of us. Like us, his ambition is to make every single piece of work radically different and radically better. With his generous leadership style, his infectiously optimistic personality and his depth of expertise in technology, product and experience design, you couldn't find a more suitable person to lead our North American business to even greater success."

Allen added, "In my career, I've been able to oscillate between intrinsic and extrinsic value for customers. This position allows me to combine both."

On how technology will change the relationships consumers develop with brands, Allen told Adweek, "Things are changing so quickly that it's hard to predict with any detail, but fitting into someone's life will be even more important in the future. Relevance is not only a cultural standpoint but a functional standpoint as well."